Sunday, October 11, 2015

That Night's Wife (1930)

Back to Ozu after a three month absence and what is most surprising again are the amount of Western allusions that show up in the early Ozu films, he who is oft considered the most Eastern of directors.  This time around we see Walter Huston film posters, a poster for a 1929 American film entitled Broadway Scandals and another poster featuring Jean Giraudoux.  Was Ozu already working out one of the themes of greatest importance to him, the threat of Westernization, or was Ozu deeply under the influence of his Western counterparts?

And it does not stop at the visual namechecks, Ozu is surprisingly but clearly working in a noir register.  There are shadows, the almost always-present nighttime, guns, pre-Hitchcockian close-ups and extreme close-ups focused on obects and a handful of noir-type twists and turns.

Ozu is not yet the restrained formalist at this point in his career.  Nor is he a pure genre filmmaker strictly following a recipe.  Ozu registers the most when he temporarily shifts his focus from plot to character, like when he startes to linger on the policeman watching the interaction between the husband, wife and their sick daughter or as the husband slowly considers his future all alone crouched down in a phone booth.    


  1. It is indeed very surprising that there are all those western signposts in his earlier films in view of his very Japanese approach, but there was a suffocating western influence in the culture at the time. True what you say about the director trying to set a style, but he had all the humanist focus in place. Terrific review here Jeffrey! Glad to see you continuing the series!

  2. Thanks so much Sam. I had not really considered that there was "a suffocating western influence in the culture at the time." But it will be an interesting factor to think about as I continue moving through Ozu's work.